Mrs. Huizenga (Roncesvalles)
Mrs. Huizenga, a 5-year-old Roncesvalles vintage shop, birthed a wee baby sister in the blossoming heart of the Junction this fall. So it's not actually that far from the original location (both are walkable from Dundas West station), nor does it really offer anything new, but by virtue of the neighbourhood's up-and-coming-ness and a new breed of clientele, the shop's second location is already developing a personality of her own.
UPDATE: This shop has closed. Mrs. Huizenga can now be found at the foot of Roncesvalles.
Owner Catherine Huizenga has always been drawn to the Junction. "It reminds me of Parkdale in the 80s," she tells me. "It has this Wild West vibe."As former owner of The Swallows restaurant, she once had a desire to open a new eatery in the Junction, but the area had been dry since 1904 (prohibition stuck until 1997). Huizenga eventually left the food business for her adoration of all things previously-loved, but one culinary hold-out still remains - she continues to carry Mado's Hot Pepper sauce (if only to guarantee her own personal supply). I warn you, once you try it, you will never again be able to eat eggs without it.
Aside from a few out-of-place condiments and handmade soaps, the rest of the shop is dedicated to goodies from the past. Every inch of the space is packed. But, perhaps because I myself am bordering on becoming a perfect candidate for Hoarders, I don't really find it that cluttered. Huizenga wields her merchandising prowess to create little "stories" with the product. My sense of discovery is heightened. Despite the volume, the store is still quite shopable.
Digging through the vintage sunglasses, trinkets, hats, small kitchen appliances, and faded photos, I unearth some gems. Making my wish-list are pumpkin-coloured cut-out Maryjanes, a milkshake mixer, huge cards of vintage buttons, a gold frame purse, an illustrated copy of a Lassie children's book, and a miniature figurine of the RCA mascot. There's really quite an eclectic mix. Bar glassware, lacy negligee, and vintage board games join the trash-to-treasure line-up.
While the gentrification of the Junction may not be everyone's idea of a good thing, Huizenga has embraced the character of the neighbourhood's pre-"revitalization" days. Her new baby is flourishing along with other shiny new shops popping up near Keele and Dundas, but delivers a respectful nod to the area's rough-around-the-edges roots. It comes naturally, I suppose, to someone who makes a living out of an appreciation for the past.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak.